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England, England Hardcover – Oct 19 1998


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Hardcover, Oct 19 1998
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Canada (Oct. 19 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679309764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679309765
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,134,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3.9 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 25 2004
Format: Audio Cassette
Unfailingly entertaining British novelist Julian Barnes presents a hilarious premise in his eighth novel - what would happen if a mega rich prankster were to turn England into a theme park?
This mischievous satire presents an England on the brink of economic disaster, thus willing to go along with the splendiferous plot of Sir Jack Pitman who wants to recreate familiar historical places and scenes. The achievement of this goal may leave one wondering what is real and what is not.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mike Stone on Sept. 8 2001
Format: Paperback
This is my first trip through Barnes' oeuvre. I arrived believing him to be a more focussed but less talented and bitter version of Martin Amis. For once, the advanced hype was right. Not that being a low-rent Amis clone is anything to be ashamed of (and he's not really that, but it makes for an easy analogy), for Amis sets the bar so high, that anyone falling just short is really doing something quite good. Barnes is at that.
The book begins with a wonderful, almost tangential look at the childhood of our "heroine", Martha Cochrane. This section could have been set off by itself, and turned into a ripping good short story. We see her run-ins with a virtuoso bean grower at the county fair, a touching sequence where her Dad teases her by hiding one piece of a puzzle she's working on (it's a map of England, natch), and then an even more touching scene with her mother after said Dad has skipped town without a word. This section, while standing firmly on its own, also nicely sets up the themes of the rest of the book.
And that rest of the book is dominated by one Sir Jack Pitman, deity of Multi-national Corporation Pitco, raving patriot, and mastermind behind the Island of the book's title. Jack is a wonderful creation, all brash ego and blowhard posturing. He is at once supremely self-aware, and easily manipulated by his underlings, whom all know how to subtly push his buttons to give him what he wants and to get what they want. Witness him question his right hand man, a yes-man to the core, on Sir Jack's distaste for yes-man. The right hand man knows better and answers all questions in the negative. Sir Jack, bless his heart, chuckles, for he knows he's being had and adores the effort.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jsiebrits@yahoo.com on July 27 2001
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed the premise of the book, given that England seems to be well on its way to becoming one big theme park, almost overflowing with so-called "experiences" to milk tourists. But Barnes doesn't quite deliver on the promise, although the writing is good and the book has its funny moments. I enjoyed the list of essential English traits and objects- only notable ommission was the Beatles (if I remember correctly). Having said this, the book is still worth reading, although I enjoyed The History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters more.
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Format: Paperback
I bought England, England after watching an interview with Julian Barnes on French television. The commentator made it clear that, in her view, the English had received the book badly, being upset that somebody could mock their monarchy and their traditions. Being Manx (which is British, but NOT English) I couldn't wait to get my hands on the book, and sat feeling smug as the postman arrived.
I wasn't disappointed. Barnes lets rip at commercialisation, and at the outdated English acceptance of things they feel to be beyond their control. He portrays England as a Disneyland, with the prince (guess which one!) as one of the buffoon Mickey Mouse characters. Good for him - he hit that one right on the nose!
Whether or not the English didn't like England, England, I can't say (there are plenty of non-Monarchists over there), but the book was a worthy read and kept me giggling and guffawing for some days. Barnes' characterizations are somewhat mixed (some good, some less so) but his portrayal of 'Sir Jack' makes up for any shortcomings in that particular department.
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Format: Paperback
I would view this book like a sandwich with bread that has become a bit stale. Cut off the edges and you have a darn good meal.
The meat of this novel is the center sections, surrounded on either side with sections of a very different character. It is in this center section that we are taken to the real heart of this book: a send up of our 20th/21st century need to repackage and remarket our world.
Disney beware...this novel is a view into your fake heart, a clear vision of Marx's belief that capitalism will lead to the commodification everything. If your even an armchair cynic, you will find the heart of this book entertaining and enlightening.
Just make sure you push through those 1st 20 pages. They are good, but not nearly as engaging as the middle of the book. Bon appetit!
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By A Customer on March 6 2001
Format: Paperback
Barnes is cute, totally lacking in substance. The characters are thin, the plot silly and the writing pretentious. The only good part of this time-wasting novel is that in which Barnes has Samuel Johnson say a number of lines in his own words. Now if we had had much more Johnson and much less Barnes, we'd have had something worthwhile.
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